Rosh Hashanah the start of a ten-day period wherein one takes stock of the previous year, or more specifically where one screwed up and hurt other people. Rosh Hashanah is day one, the Day of Judgement. Yom Kippur is day ten, the Day of Atonement.
In the literalist view of these ten days of Teshuvah, G-d determines what the next year holds in store for each individual. On Rosh Hashanah the big Book of Life opens. On Yom Kippur the determination is made and The Book is closed.
On a more personal level, it sets aside time for introspection. The religious practices enable that. One takes off time from one's usual daily schedule, gets dressed up, and goes to seriously loooooong services. Lots of prayers. Standing and sitting. Sitting and standing. Standing and sitting. Repetition Repetition. At some point, the mind slips away from the words and actions. It goes to a quiet place and floats over the year left behind and all that's to come. Sort of a Kosher meditation. And because it's Kosher, there's a whole lot of "Man, I f----d that up" observations going on.
It's also a time for apologies. And a time to consider what a real apology is. It's not "I'm sorry if what I said offended you." Rather it's "I hurt you. I was wrong. I'm sorry." Culturally, we hear so much of the former and so little of the latter, that we need to make sure that when we say we're sorry we're truly apologizing and not transferring the burden to the other person. And once we apologize, we neither expect nor demand forgiveness.
This is also the holiday wherein we hear the blowing of the shofar, formed from a ram's horn. From a distance it looks odd and out of place. But once sounded, it conjures feelings and images, primal and ancient. I still enjoy it after thirty-three years.
|I LOVE this picture for so many reasons. (Source)|
It's also a great time to put together some realistic New Year's resolutions; resolutions that can be achieved through basic actions and adjustments. For instance, for my new internet year, I'm removing all the hate-spewing blogs from my daily reading cycle. Besides saving 30-45 minutes, it also removes considerable negativity from my day. That poisonous energy is easy to come by, it's harder to part with. I'm also removing as many distractions as possible from my iPod Touch. At some point I started playing more App games than actually using my favorite toy for music. These seem like simple little fixes when in fact they'll save me a lot of time and help clear my head for more productive writing sessions.
And on that note, I leave you with this mariachi band serenading a beluga whale:
Shana Tova! A good year to all!